Accuracy in Media

In a press release issued on Tuesday, ABC News jabbed rival NBC News for rebroadcasting the Nightly News, in an attempt to boost their ratings following the Brian Williams scandal.

NBC began the practice in one market the same week that Williams apologized for lying about his Iraq experiences. They then expanded it to another three markets the week he was suspended. Currently, the news program is rebroadcast between 2 and 4 a.m. in Atlanta, Seattle, Minneapolis, Denver, St. Louis, Cleveland, Charlotte, Portland, Knoxville and Buffalo, which represent about 12% of their total national coverage. While this doesn’t violate any Nielsen rules, ABC is complaining that NBC isn’t being transparent on the issue:

ABC News’ “World News Tonight with David Muir” ranked No. 1 in Adults 25-54 (1.941 million) during the week of March 16, 2015, based on Live +Same Day Data from Nielsen Media Research. Winning back-to-back weeks in the key adult news demo, “World News Tonight” beat “NBC Nightly News” (1.935 million) by 6,000 news demo viewers to post its 12th Adults 25-54 victory of the season.

NOTE: *NBC’s stated averages now include both its 6:30 p.m. E.T. airings and re-broadcasts on some stations between the hours of 2-4 a.m. E.T. NBC News has not publicly stated the markets in which the re-airs occur nor how many additional viewers they are claiming as a result.

According to a report by TVNewser, NBC was able to add about 70,000 viewers to the totals for the week ending March 6, keeping the program in first place. Without that extra overnight boost, ABC’s World News Tonight would have beaten NBC Nightly News for the first time in almost six years.

It’s been a bit of a bumpy ride for NBC since Williams was suspended. This maneuver to juice the ratings with the rebroadcasts, while completely within the ratings guidelines, smacks of desperation by NBC to ensure that they remain atop the ratings.

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